Do you want an A-list effect home at a fraction of the price? Here are some tips on how to give your home the ‘designer edge’.
British interior designer, Rita Konig, has long been the secret weapon of clients with houses in some of the world’s smarter postcodes. Her portfolio boasts sleek New York apartments, countryside estates and some of Notting Hill’s finest. Her client list includes the likes of Michelle Obama, Mick Jagger, George and Amal Clooney and Jennifer Aniston. So, what is her secret and how can we adopt some of her ideas to brighten up our own home?
Rita’s signature look is comfortable and pretty, but not twee, with an injection of colour. When she has finished, the room or home doesn’t scream out that it has been designed to within an inch of its life. Moreover, her rooms suggest homeliness, taste and style. Think comfortable, luxurious upholstery, patterns and prints, jewel tones and opulent beds.
Unfortunately, most of us do not have celebrity budgets or space, so if you have just moved into your new home and wish to put your stamp on the property, how can this be done?
Rita Konig has launched an online course that shares some of the tricks-of-the-trade which she has gleaned over her 20-year long career. So why not sprinkle some of your own interior magic within your own home? Here are some of Rita’s tips on how to make a house feel like home.
Layout and Colour
Apparently, one of the first rules of thumb is to ‘have everything in its place and all that you need within arms reach’. Rita states that there should be ‘somewhere to sit, a light to read by and definitely always somewhere to place your drink’. To increase the feeling of homeliness, she says that bathrooms and kitchens need real furniture in them (providing you have the space), such as an armchair in a kitchen corner, a small wooden table or a stool by the bath. Equally, a tray by the bath for bath oils or freshly laundered towels will make the area more inviting.
The kitchen is often the hub of the home and, with many now having open plan living areas as well, it is important to make it feel cosy with pictures and lamps, too.
In the bedroom, Rita advocates buying the best bed and linen that you can afford as one of your biggest interior investments. The designer says: “Prioritise comfortable beds — even if that means you can’t afford to redecorate the rest of the room immediately. When you stay in someone’s house, your overriding memory is not going to be whether the walls were pink or red, but whether you were comfortable. And try not to go for all-white bedding. Layer on a quilt at the end of the bed or add some pretty pillows — it will add texture and liveliness to the room.”
Most people would immediately start by choosing their paint colour, would they not? Well according to Rita, the very first decision should be layout. You need to think of the use of the room, how you want it to work for you and what is going to be positioned where. You can then choose that all important colour!
Use of Pattern
Few people opt for pattern these days but apparently it can be a lot more forgiving than plain fabric. Rita herself is known for eclectic mixes of English prints, traditional tones and bold geometric colour, and she mixes them in a way that works. If you have children and pets at home, a pattern can hide a multitude of sins. Use them on sofas and stairs or areas of high traffic. You can be a bit more designer-daring in smaller spaces, which don’t get heavy use. If you’re really scared of using too much pattern, try texture. A gallery wall in a hallway displaying your favourite photos or pictures can work really well, too.
Buy Statement Pieces
The little ‘bits and pieces’ that you acquire can be what makes a house a home. It’s also more than likely that you will have had these items in your home for some time, so why not invest in ‘special’ pieces. Rita says: “The vases, the pictures, the lamps, all those incidental things are what bring a room to life, yet they’re often seen as superfluous. It’s easy to think: ‘That’s a ridiculous amount for a tray or a lampshade’ but sometimes those are the things that make a room.”
Putting Ideas into Action
It can be quite overwhelming to move into a new house. A new build home, for instance, can often be a blank canvas – it’s all magnolia with just your belongings plonked in the centre. Where do you begin?
Rita’s advice is to start from the centre rather than pushing furniture automatically to the edges of the room. For example, a sofa doesn’t need to be against a wall and neither does an armchair. In fact, an armchair near the fire is a very homely sight. If there is enough space in your room, then consider bringing your sofa out from the wall and placing a console table or sideboard behind it on which you can, in time, add a display of décor, photos, etc.
Good quality, older furniture is sometimes better than newer flimsy items, so the designer advises tracking down a local antique dealer. This can often be better value than shopping at the ‘big box stores’. You can always put your own stamp on these items by adding new handles or paint effects.
The items stored in your home’s hallway can be quite unsightly, such as shoe cabinets, hat or coats stands. Rita suggests baskets, small tables, the odd chair or a bench can very useful in a hallway and bring character to the space.
Rita hopes her advice will ‘stop people from feeling lost and steer them towards being excited’ whilst making their house a home. Indeed, if it can work in some of the grandest homes in Hollywood and beyond, then surely it can be adapted for more humble abodes, as well!
Make sure the bricks and mortar of the property are up to scratch before you add the designer edge to your home. Ask a Property Surveying independent Chartered Surveyor for a building survey.